a Someone should care, maybe not you....: January 2007 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

31 January 2007

Tunnel vision

(I wrote this last night and a rambled a bit more than I intended too. I probably should edit it but I'll pass on that task due to time contstraints.)

A pretty much rhetorical question was asked in response to a comment I left on a blog recently. To paraphrase the blog owner asked which one of us had tunnel vision. Now first of all I really appreciate the fact that he at least considered the possibility that he might have it. Usually when dealing with anti war folks there is never any consideration of the fact that they may be wrong. So I thought about it and I suppose the answer is probably “yes”. We both have a bit of tunnel vision.

Now. I don’t know how much thought he puts into his stance and how much consideration he gives the consequences if he is wrong about it. I frankly spend a lot of time thinking about this. I know as do most people that the war in Iraq has been badly handled from the moment that “major combat operations” ceased. There appears to have been no real plan for what to do next. If there was a plan, it seems to have been very badly carried out. So Iraq has gone to hell. There have been chances to turn things around; some things have gone quite well in fact. But overall the place is falling into chaos which I and my loyal opposition all agree on. The difference is what happens now. They tend to feel that we should pull out troops now. And the reasons they give tend to fall back on the President is an idiot and he lied to us and we never should have gone in and now we need to get out arguments. I feel that when we went in we were more right than wrong in doing it. I think though that we were insufficiently prepared for the war. I have had long posts in the past about why I think the whole “He lied about WMDs” thing is hogwash. Iraq was a major destabilizing influence in the area and it was a supporter of terrorism. (Please note there are more terrorists in the world than al Queda) Also, I personally felt that we owed the people of Iraq something after we called on them to rise up against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War and then turned our backs on them when they did and let them get slaughtered. But that is a personal thing for me. Now I frankly feel that we owe them because we broke their country. It was in pretty sad shape before but it is worse now and since we made it worse we have an obligation to at least give a real serious effort to fix it. Could we fail? Absolutely. I am constantly aware of that fact. All that we can do might not be enough to counter the rising tide of hatred and vengeance in the country. Unfortunately it is always easier to destroy than to build. The Al Queda In Iraq plans have thus come together perfectly. They wanted to instigate sectarian violence which is why they carried out more attacks on Shia targets than on us in Iraq. They wanted to discredit us and build up a major vendetta between the Shiite and Sunni factions in Iraq. We knew this, we captured their plans and could see what was happening but we never had enough troops in the country to really stop it. And as I said, it is easier to tear things down than to build or repair. They are accomplishing their goals. They are helped greatly by the endemic culture of corruption that grew under the Saddam regime and the woefully human habits of being self-serving and small minded that inflict most politicians in any nation or system.

Failure is a very distinct possibility in Iraq. I know this. But it is only a possibility; it is not a certainty unless we throw our hands in the air and say “Fuck it! We’re going home.” Which is exactly what many, if not most, of the anti war faction wants. As if we leaving will calm the sectarian violence. If we leave things will spiral even more out of control in Iraq. Different factions will be funded by different outside groups. The Saudis will fund the Sunnis because they are not excited about a Shia dominated country on their northern border. The Iranian will support the Shia of course (although I, unlike many do not think that Iran will dominate them. The Iraqi Shia will not consider themselves under the Ayatollahs of Iran, their own religious leaders will take control and one must remember that Arabs and Persians have hated each other longer than Islam has been around.) The Turks will be meddling to keep the Kurds from declaring their independence and thus encouraging the Kurdish independence movement in eastern Turkey. Syria will be a player and let’s not forget Russia to the north. If you really want to see what it will look like go take a good look at what Afghanistan looked like after the Soviet withdrawal. That is what I see as the most likely scenario and it will be a nightmare for everyone including us.

The other problem we will face will be, as I said yesterday, that people like the Taliban will look at the success of the insurgents on Iraq and say to themselves, “Ah, if we kill enough people the Americans will go home.” Then they will up the ante again. And remember, it is always easier to destroy than to build.

I really don’t much care at this point whether we “should” have invaded Iraq. The fact is that we did and now we have a problem that must be solved. Packing up and going home doesn’t solve it.

30 January 2007

Confused by our leaders......

I am trying to figure out how the members of our Senate can really say that passing a (non binding) resolution to deny the military effort in Iraq can be said not to "enbolden" the insurgency. I mean, really, come on, if you are in a war and your your enemies parliment suddenly says "Nope, we think this whole thing is a lousy idea." wouldn't you be enboldened? I would be. Hell, I'm more than halfway to victory right there. so should I stop fighting and negociate now? NOpe, kill more foplks and get those guys really out of the action.
the Senate has the right, even the responsibility if they REALLY believe it is wrong, to oppose the military action. But to sanctimoniously declare that what they are doing won't help the enemies is crap. They are giving the enemy a boost and they know it, they just refuse to admit it.

I suppse what really makes me unhappy is that the Taliban in Afghanistan will lookat this as a roadmap to success. If you want the Americans to leave, kill LOTS of people. It doesn't even have to be American troops. Just make it bloody and pretty soon they will be backing out. But the anti war folks won't admit to that possibility either.

25 January 2007

New Tech

The Army has unveiled the newest thing in non-lethal weapons. A giant heat ray called the Silent Guardian. Boy it sure sounds like we have hit the science fiction zone now but it is real. A Humvee with a big dish on the top emits a ray of energy that penetrates the skin to a depth of .4mm; just enough to activate the nerve endings but not enough to actually injure anyone. Those who have been hit by it, including a Reuters journalist, describe it as a feeling like standing in directly in front of a very hot oven and opening the door. So hot that it makes you duck away. This will be an ideal weapon to scatter stone throwing crowds and such as it has a range of about 500 meters.
I am sure there will be a lot of protesting about horrible abusive system but it beats getting shot. I wonder how long it will be before police depts start getting them for use in major cities? ( and then the real protests will begin.)

BBC Article

24 January 2007

The State of the Union

Written last night, posted this morning......

Well, I have just finished listening to the State of the Union Address. Overall I was rather impressed. I was particularly impressed by his description of the consequences of U.S. failure in Iraq. The fact that what he fits quite well with what I think will happen if we throw up our hands and come home probably aids me on that. His use of the phrase “nightmare scenario” and the description of that scenario was, in my view, very accurate. Will people care? I fear not. Americans aren’t interested in anything that can’t be solved in week and summed up in a half hour special report. After all, Jack Bauer can dismantle entire terrorist organizations in 24 hours, so why is this simple little war still going on?

On a couple of other points I was intrigued by his mention of a “civil reserve force” which is something that I haven’t heard of before at all and I am not at all sure exactly what he meant by it.

I was also interested in his stuff on alternative fuels and similar issues. I am quite sure that the congressman from the Midwest liked that a lot since he was really big on ethanol and bio-diesel. I was happy to see the strong mention for nuclear power too. I think we need more of that. His call to reduce gasoline use by 20% in ten years is pretty much bunk unless you cook the books a lot. Of course as long as the Big SUV is the prime choice for many American buyers then gas use won’t go down.

On immigration reform, well that is pretty much a done deal I suspect. The hard core anti immigration folks will scream but it is clear from what the President said that this is going to happen and it will be along the lines of what the Senate went for last year.

The tax breaks to buy health insurance was an interesting idea but frankly it won’t work. The problem with it is that it is a standard deduction for pretty much everyone. The problem of course is that most of the people who need health insurance but don’t have it won’t spend the money they are saving from their taxes on health insurance. They’ll buy a big screen TV. (Or am I just too damn cynical there?)

(Oops, the Democratic response is beginning; let’s see how they liked it. Not at all of course.)
Predictably Mr. Webb is opposed to the war in Iraq. I find it interesting that he speaks against “precipitous withdrawal” but says he wants the troops out “in short order” I am curious how he and the Democrats intend to manage that little contradiction. I was also interested in his reference to how a new President came in and ended the war in Korea promptly but then failed to mention at all that when that war “ended” there was no withdrawal from Korea like he is calling for in Iraq because there, as in Iraq, a withdrawal would have lead to chaos and destruction in the region. (In truth the war didn’t end, there was a cease fire put in place that has endured.) But I will grant that the response was considerably less vitriolic than I expected. I am amused that the Democrats are claiming a great success for passing a new minimum wage bill. Of course the Republicans tried to pass one last year that the Democrats shot down so I am not particularly impressed.

LOL, NPR just went to a micro brew bar in Seattle in get the “common man’s view” of what the President said. Yeah, that is a real unbiased place to get an opinion on any Republican, let alone President Bush.

22 January 2007

And so it begins.......

The campaign for President that is. And I suppose the "Big News" is that Hillary Clinton and stepped up and admitted that she is running. The big gust of warm wind that swept the country right after that was Republican political strategists breathing a huge sigh of relief. They know that Hillary has a very good chance of getting the Democratic nomination. They also know that there is no person short of Satan himself showing up to run that will bring the "Republican Base" boiling out of their burrows to vote. She also has alot less draw across the Independents. So the stratagists are pleased. They were alot less happy with Obama. I personally am not sure what everyone sees in the man yet. He hasn't really said or done anything. Which I suppose could account for his popularity. He has no baggage that we know of. Although, once Hillary's people start digging I am sure something will be found somewhere. They are good at that. (Unless of course the plan is to subourne him into the Vice Presidency, which would be an interesting plan)
We shall see.

18 January 2007

An interesting couple of days....

Well, several things have happened of relative interest. I note with pleasure that the Afghan government has captured a fairly high level Taliban leader and spokesman. Mohamed Hanif was captured with two associates shortly after he crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan (where of course no Taliban are hiding out according to the Pakistani government). In his interrogations he has already said that the Taliban leader Mohammed Omar is living in Quetta Pakistan "under the protection of the ISI" The ISI for those who wonder is the Interservice Intelligence Agency which is Pakistan's version of the CIA. The ISI funded and supported the Taliban in its rise to power and has resisted orders to cut off its former clients. I personally rather doubt that the ISI is officially supporting Omar but it is quite likely that former ISI leaders and some current ones are privately helping him out. Pakistan of course says that is a ridiculous claim and is certainly not true.

On the domestic front. President Bush has finally given in and the administration says that they will go through the FISA process to get warrants for domestic wiretapping in their investigations of possible terrorist suspects. This is a good thing. The Government must follow both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Our rights should not be curtailed, abridged or overlooked in the pursuit of security.

And I would like to thank my cats for leaving me the joyful task of cleaning up the eveicerated carcass of a rat, not a mouse, but a full blown 8 inch not counting the tail field rat, from the middle of my living room this morning. At first I suspect the dogs but frankly, I would have woken up if the dogs had gone rat hunting during the night, they tend to get noisy and things would have been knocked over. The rat also would have been much chewed instead of neatly gutted with the best(?)parts selectively eaten and the rest arranged ornately in the center of the floor. I'm just glad I didn't step on it.

15 January 2007

What is a book?

First, let me admit this post is a theft. I have stolen it from HERE. I would feel real bad about doing this except this is a excerpt from the writings of Abu 'Uthman 'Amr b. Bahr al-Jahiz, a 9th century Arabic writing.

"A book is a receptacle filled with knowledge, a container crammed with good sense, a vessel full of jesting and earnestness. If can if you wish be more eloquent that Sahban b. Wa'il, or less talkative than Baqil: it will amuse you with anecdotes, inform you on all manner of astonishing marvels, entertain you with jokes or move you with homiles, just as you please. you are free to find in it an entertaining adviser, an encouraging critic, a villainous ascetic, a silent talker, or hot coldness...

"Moreover have you ever seen a garden that will go into a man's sleeve, an orchard you can take on your lap, a speaker who can speak of the dead and yet be interpreter of the living? Where else will you find a companion who sleeps only when you are alseep, and speaks only when you wish him to... You denigrate books, whereas to my mind there is no pleasanter neighbour, no more fair minded friend, no more amenable companion, no more dutiful teacher, no comrade more perfect and less prone to error, less annoying or importunate, of a sweeter disposition, less inclined to contradiction or accusation, less disposed to slander or backbiting, more marvellous, cleverer, less demanding or quarrelsome, less prone to argument or more opposed to strife, than a book."

If I were still teaching school I would print this out and put it on my wall.

12 January 2007

The Pain of Pundits

Why? Why, why, why in the name of the nine night demons and the seven Lords of Hell do I listen to political talk on the radio or on television? They are all idiots. The talking heads on the right are pompous, brain dead twits and the ones on the left are worse because they are sanctimonious brain dead twits! I listen to these people on the radio and I end up screaming at them. (It must look real good to people driving by) Tonight I was listening to News and Notes on NPR. I do this all the time, I think I do it for the same reason I read blogs that drive me nuts too; I just want to know what those I disagree with are thinking. I’m not sure I can keep it up much longer though. If I have to listen to one more sanctimonious nitwit declaiming about how the General all say it will take 400,000 troops to pacify Baghdad I’ll scream. (The Generals have said 400,000 troops were what they would have wanted to pacify IRAQ, not Baghdad)

I know what the sides think, one side thinks our military is composed of sweet little children who should be brought home RIGHT NOW and tucked safely into bed lest something bad happen to them (Except when those troops are murderous racists slaughtering and torturing innocents), the other thinks the soldiers are HEROS, nobly striving to carry light to the world. Both sides are full of it. The military is made up of adults who have voluntarily signed up to be there. ADULTS who knew when they signed the paper that going to war, killing people and getting killed in return was part of the bloody job description. There is a reason in basic training that little call and response thing have answers like “Blood! Blood makes the grass grow!” Any one who has served more than one term in the military and then suddenly says, “Oh wait, I’m a conscientious Objector!” is a lying sack of crap who has played the game until he or she is called to really step up and play and then decides to quit. But it is better that they get out than they be sent to serve with real soldiers. NO soldier wants to go to war. (Well, there are a few but there are loons in every profession) But let’s face it, it is their job. It was my job once and I went. If I was asked I’d go again. But this rant is taking me away from my initial rant, talking heads as idiots. People opposed to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan look at statistics that say things like “More people have died in the fighting in Afghanistan this year than any time since the initial invasion.” and use that to say “See, Afghanistan is falling apart!” NO, more people have died because coalition forces are going into places that have always been Taliban strongholds, setting up bases and saying “Here we are, do something about it.” And when the Taliban tries to do something the Coalition forces kick their asses. Yes, there have been more deaths in Afghanistan this year than there have been since the invasion. And MOST of those deaths, the VAST majority, have been Taliban fighters. (a little fact that the Oh My God Things Are Terrible folks don’t mention.)
Let’s not let the heads on the right off the hook here either. They can defend Bush and Rumsfeld all they want but anyone with half a brain can see that the war effort has been seriously mishandled. Military analysts and others who know their business have always, since the idea of invading Iraq and deposing Saddam was first brought up, said that it would take LOTS of troops (that 400,000 number again) and about 10 years to do it. so what does our President do? Invades with less than half that, which works FINE for the invasion and conquest, and then acts like the whole process can be completed in 2 or 3 years. If I hear one more idiot politician or talking head of either side say something about us needing to “stand up the Iraqi army now to fight” I’ll scream. Do these twits not realize how long it takes to make an effective military????? The Iraqi soldiers are getting a basic training that is shorter by far than what American soldiers get, are being thrown into units whose officers and senior NCOs have as little experience as the men and then being sent off to fight a guerilla war which is the worst, most difficult kind of war you can have. It doesn’t work. You cannot make an effective military with out leadership, and developing leaders takes TIME, you can’t do it on some rush schedule. When you try, people die and unit fall apart. This was learned in the Second World War by the US when it sent whole divisions that were raised and trained together over to Europe to fight and they promptly disintegrated in the face of the battle. After that, replacements were sent to established units so that those with experience could teach those without. Why on earth do people on the left and the right think we can establish a functioning representative democracy in Iraq in less than 4 years? We occupied Germany for longer than that. Of course we get the idiots on the left who say it is pointless to try and establish a democracy in a place that has no tradition of democracy and we are doomed to failure. Yet we did it in Japan. It just takes time, which is something that we shortsighted rush rush Americans can’t seem to grasp.

I am not a real big fan of President Bush. I think he screwed things up in Iraq by rushing into the war without having a good plan in place for what to do after the invasion. (if he had a real plan, I have yet to figure out exactly what it involved.) While I never really liked it when he kept saying “Stay the course” I couldn’t argue with him on that issue because to sin an insurgency takes TIME, lots of time. You have to have troops on the ground fighting the insurgents while you are building a real alternative political structure that those insurgents can later become a part of once they realize they can’t win militarily. Rushing the process, cobbling together an unstable and unwieldy government while out an out telling the insurgents that if they hang on long enough we will go away and they can do what they will is no way to win anything. But, that seems to be the route that the US has chosen. WE went in and broke a country, (not a really stable or great country I’ll grant you but…) and now we are going to pull out leaving a burning festering wound that will haunt the region for a LONG time (and come back to bit us on the ass I am sure) And then the pompous twits of the right can say, See, it is all the fault of the Liberal Mainstream Media, and the sanctimonious twits can look at the mess and say, See, we told you it wouldn’t work.

Can anyone sense that I am really frustrated??????

06 January 2007

Afghanistan again

As anyone who has even remotely been following what is going on in
Afghanistan knows President Hamid Karzai is very unhappy with Pakistan. He, and everyone else in Afghanistan, knows that the Taliban, the Hizb I Islami Gulbadin, and pretty much anyone else opposed to the current system in the country is hiding out there and crossing the border to attack and work other mischief. Karzai wants Pakistan to do something about this. Pakistan on the other hand has a pretty good record of hunting down al Queda cells in their country but the Taliban pretty much gets a free pass. The Pakistanis feel that they are doing all they can and it is the job of the Afghans to protect their country. There is no love lost here. The US has been pressuring Pakistan to do more and recently Pakistan announced that it would build fences and put minefields along the border to stop illegal infiltrations. Now, it would seem on the surface that this is a step towards what Karzai wants. But the Afghan Government lead by Karzai has condemned this action and demands that it not take place.

What the heck is going on here?

Well, to know that you have to look back in history a bit. When Great Brittan ruled the Indian Subcontinent they expanded to the northwest into what is now Afghanistan. They fought a few very bloody wars that they didn’t win and sort of declared a border deciding that here is our territory and over there is this place called Afghanistan. As is typical with colonial borders this paid no attention to who actually lived in the areas in question. This was very obvious again later when the British decided they had had enough of the colony stuff and were going home, and made India and Pakistan. They declared the Durrand Line as the border between the new country of Pakistan and the Nation of Afghanistan. They did not of course ask the Afghans about this. The Durrand Line runs right through the middle of was known as Pashtunistan. The Afghan government has NEVER recognized the Durrand line as the legitimate border between the two countries. When Pakistan was new there were very real fears that Afghanistan, which then was militarily much stronger and better organized than Pakistan, would invaded and take the disputed territories. For a lot of what then seemed like very good reasons the US backed Pakistan driving the Afghans towards the Soviet Union which in the long run turned out to be a pretty bad thing for them. When the current Afghan government was created under great pressure from the US they sort of accepted the Durrand line as the boundary with Pakistan. But there is a huge difference between saying, yeah okay that is the boundary, and actually allowing fences and minefields to define it. The dream f greater Pashtunistan still burns pretty strong in a lot of those tribes hearts and denying that dream would not be a good move for Karzai. This, not coincidently, goes a long way towards explaining why Pakistan stayed so heavily involved in the situation in Afghanistan over the years. The Pakistanis were always very much against the return of the Afghan king because the Kings father had been a strong proponent of Pashtunistan and a lot of Pashtuns in Pakistan would have felt more loyalty and to him than they do to Pakistan. Many in Afghanistan feel tha Pakistan is very deliberately keeping the Taliban going to keep Afghanistan from becoming unified, stable, and strong again. And from some things I have read, they may not be all that far off. One telling indicator of the feelings between the two nations could be found in the interrogations I conducted while I was in Afghanistan. One of the questions I used to ask almost every detainee was “Who is the enemy of Afghanistan?” And every person I asked that question responded “Pakistan”.

04 January 2007

A new thing for this blog.

You may notice a link to Amazon.com that has shown up in the top left corner of my blog. This is part of my continuing if undoubtedly futile effort to avoid getting a real job. Should you click on that link and buy something at Amazon I would make some small amount off your purchase. (4% more or less) So all you big readers out there, make me your doorway to Amazon. I will appreciate it.
I will be periodically recommending books and such that fit in with whatever I am trying to do with this site.

On a different topic, just how stupid can the Iraqi government be? They buried Saddam Hussein near his home village. Can you say a shrine in the making? Nesting place for want to be martyrs? The Soviets had the right idea with Hilter. Burn the body to ashes, grind them up and scatter them in an unknown location. Personally, I would have flushed Saddam's ashes.
As is, they have created a real problem for themselves.

02 January 2007

An interesting book

I pulled an old book off my bookcase the other day. It is one I have had for several years but haven’t read. I tend to grab books when I can and keep them on the shelf until I get around to reading them. This one sat around longer than most. (Although there are a few that have been sitting longer) The book in question is Warday by Whitely Strieber and James Kunetka, written in 1984. It is built around the premise that in 1988 there was a limited nuclear war between the USSR and the US. And 5 years later, the two of them set out from Texas to tour the US and write a book about what is going on in the US. Beyond that I’m not going to tell you what happens in the book. Suffice it to say that they researched things really well. They did take a fairly bleak view of how things would work out but it is not unreasonably bleak. I personally think (hope) things would be a bit better than they portrayed it. Not so much in the how things were damaged and the physical effects of the bombs but in the aftermath and how the country reacts to the situation. I am rather surprised that I find myself with the idea that people would be better than that because I generally have a pretty bleak view of rationality, intelligence, and worth of humans in general. We tend to make things bad for ourselves because we are terminally shortsighted as a group. So thinking like that I can see Strieber’s outcome as very likely. But I also have an insanely idealistic view of the US and the system that our forefathers built here. But that is for another post some other day.

Even if you disagree with how Strieber and Kunetka have things turn out the book is a very good reading for viewing the probably physical aftereffects of a limited nuclear war. The talk of how the US Economy is devestated by EMP is really interesting and would be even worse today as so much of our world is "digital". It is, as it should be, a fairly scary scenario. Go buy a book and read off line for awhile.